Factors to Consider
Factors to Consider

Planning Ahead. Doing your "homework" is the best way to succeed in any educational program. Your relatively short time of study in the United States will be enhanced by careful planning and advance preparation. Twelve to 18 months prior to the date you wish to begin a program, define your goals and begin researching programs that will best meet them.
Choosing a Program

Begin your search by visiting your nearest EducationUSA information and advising center. There you will have access to a variety of reference materials about U.S. educational programs and institutions. You can also find information through the websites listed in 'Related Links' and the books listed in the 'Bibliography.'

Try to identify several programs of study that will meet your personal and professional requirements. Then, contact the organizations or institutions running the programs and request detailed information. Be sure to communicate your particular situation and any special needs you may have.

Compare the programs that interest you by considering:
  • application deadlines;
  • whether you meet the eligibility and admission requirements;
  • accreditation of the program or institution;
  • costs;
  • whether the program includes or arranges for housing, or if it provides any assistance to students who are looking for a place to live;
  • other services, such as social activities, provided by the organization running the program or by the host educational institution;
  • how long the program has been in existence, typical participants, and, if applicable, what careers or jobs past participants have gained entry to after completing the program;
  • if this is not an international exchange program, how experienced the program administrators are in dealing with participants from outside the United States;
  • the location and local environment, including climate and availability of public transportation;
  • the "small print": whether a deposit is required in advance, refund and cancellation policies, and any other obligations on both you and the organization running the program.
If you are considering studying at a college or university, you may also wish to consult the section on 'Undergraduate Study' or 'Graduate Study', which contain more information on factors to consider when choosing a U.S. college or university.


There is no central government body in the United States that is in charge of monitoring educational standards. Instead, the United States relies on the system of accreditation to ensure educational quality of institutions and specific programs. It is essential to make sure that any courses or short-term study or training programs you choose are properly accredited. Also check in advance with your home-country secondary school, university, ministry of education or labor, employer, or relevant professional association to determine whether your program of study will be recognized upon your return.

For more detailed information concerning this very important part of choosing an appropriate short-term study program, please read the section on "Accreditation."


The cost of short-term study in the United States varies considerably. Costs are determined by the institution's tuition charges and other fees, as well as by the program type and length and by the materials you will be required to purchase in order to complete the program. Information about the costs of each program is available in program brochures, catalogs, and application materials, and sometimes on a program website.

You will also need to budget for the cost of traveling to and from the United States, as well as for living expenses such as room and board. In addition, you will need to have health insurance while in the United States. There may also be a charge in your country for applying for a U.S. student visa.


Funding from universities, scholarship organizations, or grant-giving bodies is difficult to obtain for short-term study in the United States. Much of this type of funding is given to degree-seeking students or to researchers.


It is important to note that almost all types of short-term study in the United States require you to apply for a student visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country, regardless of the length of the course or the type of program. The most common visa for international students is the F-1 student visa. If you are participating in an established educational exchange program, you may need to apply for the J-1 exchange visitor visa instead. Confirm with the staff at the institution running the program which type of visa you will need.

Before applying for either an F-1 or a J-1 visa, you must receive a U.S. government form called a Certificate of Eligibility. If you are applying for an F-1 visa, the Certificate of Eligibility will be issued by your U.S. institution of study. If you are applying for a J-1 visa, the Certificate of Eligibility will be issued either by your U.S. institution of study or by the program that is sponsoring your study in the United States. The Certificate of Eligibility shows that you have been accepted into a program of study and have proven that you have sufficient funds to pay all expenses for the duration of the course or program, either through your own funds or through funds from a sponsoring individual or organization. For an F-1 visa application, the Certificate of Eligibility is called the Form I-20, and for a J-1 visa application, it is called the Form IAP-66. (The IAP-66 will become DS-2019 in the future.)

For more information on visa requirements and regulations, see 'Predeparture Information.' Also contact your nearest EducationUSA information and advising center and your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to find out specific visa application procedures and visa costs for your country.